The Memphis University School dates to September 1893, when E. S. Werts and J. W. S. Rhea founded the school with seven students and high hopes. The school opened in a city recovering from successive bouts of yellow fever and entering a deep economic depression. Against all odds, the school succeeded.
By 1899 Memphis University School’s distinctive building fronted Forrest Park and included eight grades and approximately 150 students. MUS graduates attended the nation’s most competitive colleges and furnished generations of leadership for Memphis and the surrounding area. Notable alumni included writers Richard Halliburton and Nash Buckingham and political leaders Lewis Donelson and George Grider. During the Great Depression, the school languished, then closed.
Memphis University School reemerged during the post-World War II prosperity. Alumni of the earlier school and Second Presbyterian Church leaders worked together to create a new Memphis University School. It opened at 6191 Park Road in 1955; Ross M. Lynn and Eugene Thorn served as the first and second headmasters. MUS grew to almost 600 students and, like its namesake, boasts an honor system and strong academic and athletic traditions. Its graduates continue the tradition of attendance at the nation’s most respected colleges and maintain leadership roles in business, professional, and civic endeavors. For more than a century, the two Memphis University Schools have maintained reputations as the city’s premier college-preparatory school.